Monday, August 31, 2015

Good Eye Contact

Having good eye contact is considered very important in the culture of the West. Although there are some situations where eye contact is not required much, in other situations, such as job interviews, it is very critical to have good eye contact. The problem is that not everyone is comfortable with making  and maintaining eye contact. So, let's talk about eye contact today and I will give some tips for those of you who might benefit from this advice.

Eye contact is actually cultural behavior. In some cultures, such as Japan where I am from, having strong eye contact may be considered too much or even "rude." No surprise that people have much less eye contact in these cultures. Naturally, for people from such backgrounds, making good eye contact may be difficult.

In the United States, people are expected to make good eye contact out of courtesy and/or professionalism. This doesn’t mean, however, that all of Americans, even those born and raised here, find eye contact easy.

Anxiety in social situations, known as “Social Anxiety,” is pretty common for many people. Even if some people may have little anxiety in general, it may still be quite challenging in more serious, anxiety-provoking situations such as job interviews or presentation.

So what can you do for it? Well, you can practice eye contact with your friends and/or life coach or someone you trust to help you get used to making eye contact. Or, you can see a psychologist to understand what makes it so difficult for you and practice to overcome your difficulties. If you don’t like those options, let me share a couple of tips here with you.

1) Try eyeglasses. This is really interesting but very helpful, actually. If you wear eyeglasses, you can feel like you have a shield between you and the other person. If you already wear glasses, or if this trick didn’t seem to work for you, try ones with some small amount of tint on them. They still look appropriate and you feel less anxious. You may be surprised how much more at ease you feel once you put them on!

2) If eyeglasses did not work, or if you don't like the idea of hiding your lovely face or something like that, here is another strategy. Try to look at the person's mouth or philtrum, the area between mouth and nose, instead of the eyes; you can look at this area with it not being noticeable that you are doing so. You can try taking a look at the eyes of the person you are talking to at times when you can to gradually get used to maintaining actual eye contact. Even though it may not be perfect eye contact, people won’t notice. It’s much better than talking to somewhere without any apparent eye contact, and your anxiety will be much less.

Once you are used to doing the above, eventually you are likely to feel okay with having more and more direct eye contact. Eye contact has a strong power, and may even feel too much for some people at time. But once you can utilize it, you can take advantage of this power for your benefit, such as making a better impression, demonstrating a stronger presence, being more confident and persuasive, and even appearing more attractive! Keep practicing it until you feel comfortable. The more you do, the less difficult it is. Have fun and every success!

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